Monday, August 27, 2012

The thing about boys

Today is the first day back to school for the Things (one's a senior and one's a sophomore this year.  Good Lord!).  So, like generations of good parents before me I took them back-to-school clothes shopping yesterday afternoon.

That's right – about 14 hours before the first bell rings, we were in a JCPenney grabbing up novelty tee shirts and new shorts.  We are an 'in time' family like that.  Pays to plan ahead.

Never mind that I had to practically DRAG them out of their boy cave, I also made them TRY ON the clothes they were (oh so mildly) interested in purchasing.  I am that bad Mom.

Half the uniform, must be cargo!
I'm also cheap.  Well, OK, situationally cheap.  For example, I bought gut-buster 5 Guys cheeseburgers for them for lunch at 6 bucks a pop, which isn't cheap, and then lasered in on the 'clearance' tables at the JCPenney as the optional place to start shopping.  I see nothing wrong with this, as a 3 dollah tee shirt probably wears almost as good as a 15 dollah one.  The Things know this, and happily pawed through the piles looking for something that met their tastes and expectations.  I think we did pretty good, walking out with 1 Superman tee, 2 pairs of cargo shorts, and 2 short-sleeved polo shirts (I insisted they get something 'nice' to wear in case they're even invited someplace…nice) for 62 bucks.  Yay JCPenney!

Then we walked around the mall looking for more deals and steals.  Long and short?  Could have stopped at the JCP, as the prices only went up for there.  Belks = nothing but Lacoste.  Nordstrom = yes, this Burberry polo can be yours for a mere 150 beans!  Macy's = would you like your shirt in neon or this other neon?  Thank goodness for JCP, as it was the only sane choice in a world of generally overpriced and ugly 'fashion.'  I should point out that my kids won't even approach and A&F or Anthropologie; they're too 'trendy' and apparently the Things hate the music.  I think they were raised by wolves or something…

Yeah, boys are different.  At least our boys are.  They couldn't really give a hoot about what's on their backs.  And for this (among many other things), I love them.


Were you all 'fashion-forward' as a youngster?  I was not.  I didn't really care what I wore as long as it didn't itch or wasn't too tight or didn't make me feel hot.  Sometime during college I think is when I started really caring about what I wore, and that lasted about 10 years, then I became a Mom so everything just spun out of control after that and now I have 4 pairs of pants and 10 shirts I like so there's my wardrobe.

If you WERE a fashion plate, are you still now?  If not, why not?  I suspect that you're either in it for life or just have brief flirtations with caring about fashion (not to be confused with 'style') only to abandon it once some life change comes along that allows a departure from it.

And if you ARE a fashionista, please tell me what's hot for fall.  My wardrobe, as you might expect, needs some serious updating.

Tiff out.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh, Eudorable thing

We have a bookshelf in the master bedroom CRAMMED with books I can't bear to or simply won't get rid of.  The copies of all the "Little House" books I've had since I was a girl are there, as are copies of "Jitterbug Perfume," "Another Roadside Attraction," "Things Fall Apart," "The Silmarillion,"  several Harry Potter books, and you get the idea.  There's a wide range of stuff in there, from all different periods of my life, and all kept safe in case they ever come in handy.

I think maybe Biff has a couple of books in there, but I can't be sure.  Most of them are ones I've read, loved, and want to, someday, read again.

Recently, on one of those 'some days,' I pulled a slim-ish volume from the shelf, thinking a collection of short stories would be the way to re-start my re-reading.  Ah, Eudora Welty!  A fortuitous find!  I remember reading Eudora Welty when I was 30 years younger than I am now, and loving how she spools words out so effortlessly (or so I recall it seeming).  The language, more than the stories, was what got my attention.  I've always been a fool for well-used words, and so eagerly anticipated reading these short stories again to become reacquainted with the flow and cadence of her languid Southern prose.

makes sense, trust me.
And what I got, right off the bat, was "Livvie."

I chose this story not because I had any particular affiliation with it, in fact it's almost certain I'd never read it before. No, I chose it because it's SHORT and I was in bed and needed something I could finish before falling off to sleep.  It's not a BAD way to pick something to read, really, and sometimes it's rewarding.

So, "Livvie" it was.  This is the story of a young woman who marries a much older man who had been very powerful and still was wealthy enough to run a farm, mostly, as time wears on, from his bed.  She is married to him for 9 years until, at last, he spends his days sleeping and she spends her days being quiet and trying to feed him.  Not exactly riveting material, right?  Until Miss Baby Marie shows up, that is, and Livvie has to deal with an intrusion from a world with which she is almost entirely unfamiliar.  Baby Maire peddles cosmetics, and had to practically hunt down Livvie, who lives very far away from almost everything.  She is a pushy thing, foisting all kinds of wares onto Livvie, who can't pay for anything by herself unless the payment can be made in eggs.  Baby Marie doesn't need eggs, and so leaves abruptly. 


I KNOW.  Confusing.

Then a young man makes the scene, a vibrant strong feller who captures her attention, accompanies her home, smashes some of the old man's precious bottles on his precious bottle trees, then witnesses the old man's death and of course winds up kissing Livvie.

The end.

Right then.

Words mean more than stories it is, as I was unable to make much of the plot line.  Don't get me wrong, it's a gorgeous read, with descriptions and phraseology so lush it'll make your head sweat, but I wasn't really getting a great vibe from it.  Until I did a little research on it and found THIS exploration from the 1940's, which totally makes sense and totally makes me appreciate what Miss Welty was trying to do.  Livvie as Persephone!  Of course!  Naturally, anyone in any way, no matter how small, versed in ancient texts would have recognized that right off the bat, but I am not versed in any real sense in ancient texts and so was left with a nagging sense that I'd missed something.

Indeed I had.  Just a little something about the life/death cycle and how a young girl is captured by Satan (or similar) and has to have a periodic spell of 'death' before being rescued by a vigorous re-representation of the dead husband and brought back to Mother Life.  How very clear it all is now, and how much have our basic stories not changed from 'boy meets girl.'  I supposed I 'got' that circle of life idea from my reading of the story, but in some ways the plot is somewhat staid and plodding and predictable, except for that whole Miss Baby Marie thing.  Left to my own interpretations, I'd be pretty sure that one was a red herring for the eventual climax.

Hey, nobody ever accused me of being the sharpest crayon in the box, and I'm OK with that.  But watch out, if I keep on reading and researching and looking for 'meaning' when I don't undestand, someday I might, just MIGHT, have a point.

Which this post does not.

Tiff out.

PS - if you'd like another, less thickly-worded, take on 'Livvie,' go read this.  Genius work by a highly thoughtful scholar, boiled down to 1 paragraph of nothing but meaning and insight.

PPS - that was sarcasm, mostly.

Monday, August 20, 2012

If I had a nickel...

I need to start construction of a giant safe..
Over the past couple/few years I've been working on paying down my debt, Dave Ramsey style.  I am fortunate enough to receive a paycheck that has allowed me to make some significant strides toward being revolving debt free, and I'm sure if I pinched more pennies a little harder I'd be much further along on the journey than I am, but I like to live a little and now make money and the relative lack of it as huge deal.

Anyhow.  Let's not let my lack of stringency get in the way of what I see as some very good news indeed, which is that I am now only 2 payments away from paying off one card completely, and have paid down about 1/3rd of the other card.

'Gee,' some of you with little to no debt might be thinking, 'Just how bad WAS it?' One word?  Bad.  Two words, VERY bad.  The card I'm paying off had over $10K on it 3 years ago, and the other card had far more than that. The debt piled up because 1)  I have a GREAT credit score so the allowable balances were sky-high (and I was too stupid to tell the banks 'no thank you') 2) I'd financed 2 moves including 3) the furnishing of a couple of HOMES on those cards, plus did things like 4) oh to HELL with it, I need this thing, and 5) vowing I'd pay it back 'later, when I had money.'

Well, 'later' started almost 3 years ago, and I've not looked back.

Slowly, very slowly, the albatross is being removed from my neck.  I no longer wake up in a sweat about money, how much I don't have, how that next bill is going to be paid.  I've not used a credit card in 2+ years, and know on a daily basis what my approximate balance is and where that money should be going.  It's not always simple, and sometimes I have to borrow from the slush fund (my savings) to make all the 'out' match the 'in,' but then the next paycheck comes and I pay myself back what I took out, hopefully plus a little.

I'm still afraid to look at my credit score, though.  It went from sky-high to Grade F in a few years, I'm sure.  Let's just say there are few if any creditors sending me offers for their cards, and there's not a single bank out there contacting me with their low-low car loan rates anymore like they were doing a number of years ago.  Those days are gone, I suspect not just me but for all of us.  All that 'free money' wrecked my credit score, and it's been an experience well worth the effort to try to get out from under.

Like I said, I'm very fortunate to have a good job that pays well, and I'm grateful every day for that.  I want to be a better steward of what's been afforded me, and once those bills are paid off and I've built up the 6 months' savings that is recommended, I will be able to use my money in ways I've never dreamed of.  It will be a different way to live, but by this time next year I expect to be out from under the credit card debt and well on my way to finding out what it feels like to be 1500 (or so) dollars 'richer' every month.

You know, just in time for Thing 1 to start college...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It's enough to make a lazy person weep

Today has been my favorite day ever.

Nothing spectacular happened, nothing major was done, nothing oppressive was shrugged, nevertheless.  Favorite day.

Might have something to do with finally getting out to the garden and ripping the freaking weeds out by their freaking roots, the satisfying snap of their discommunication with the ground a welcome punctuation to the horrible run-on sentence of their occupation in the backyard.  Truly, who needs a garden full of mystery vines when what one wanted were pepper plants?  NOBODY, that's who!

Who cares that I got bit by mosquitos a millionty times and might contract some kind of pig fever as a result?  NOBODY, that's who, and that's OK, because it only has to matter to me.  I had on a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, BTW.  I'm not totally stupid.  But still, bug spray would have been a good idea.

Other stuff that happened today that matters to nobody else but me:

  •  Bought some kind of 'updo pick' at the CVS while shopping for other supplies (see below) that is now my most favorite hair accessory ever.  I LOVE getting that hair off my neck AND not experiencing that 'one pulled hair' thing that barrettes inevitably provide.
  • I am a redhead again
  • the dishes got done
  • the kitchen floor was schwepped
  • the LR and boys' room was vacuumed
  • G and I went on a totally silly errand that could have been fixed with 5 minutes of online shopping, but which turned into me getting the earring 'swivels' I needed to repair a couple of doodads that lost their schwerve and needed to get it back for me to adorn myself once more with their pretty little selves. We did not, however, get the glass cutter we went out for.  Ohwell.

And here we are.  8 p.m., chillin' like a Sir, glad that today's been a vacation while still getting things done.

Come back tomorrow, today!  I could use many more like you.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

so far today

80000 nose blows
100235 sneezes
432 or so throat clearings.

Whatever it is, it's out there.


I am now talking like I'm sure Jackie  Stallone sounds - a combination of dust, shrieking, old age, and smoking that results in ta low throttling vibralto of no particular pitch.


My regular voice is nice.  Melodic, maybe. Throaty, yes. but not RASPY and PEBBLY and sounds like I'm gargling every consonant in a flurry of alphabetical hate.

Whoever you are that's making our boys sneeze and me rasp  like the last of the Skeksis?  KNOCK IT OFF. 

I can't tell stories in this state, and I'm chock full of them lately.  Terribly gravid with tales, I am.

Oh my. :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

She's a bad Mammagramma! (Boring medical stuff!)

taste the rainbow...
I turned 50 this year, and as such promised myself that this would be "The Year I Go To The Doctors'."

ALL the dang doctors, as it turns out.

You cannot believe the stress this has caused me, in terms of actually picking up the phone and making that call.  Oh, those 30 seconds of pain and agony, agreeing to a set time and place to arrive, after which much would be revealed about my inner workings and physical failures.

So far, I've had blood drawn twice, found out I need blood pressure medication, done the girl doc thang (but, thankfully, no distressing phone call afterward to 'discuss results'), and today had a lil boob squishie feste AND found out I need to go on thyroid meds.  AGAIN.

I'm fine with this, it's OK, I'm good to go.  I'm still alive, but wow.  All this self-care is going to start getting expensive, what with the 2 new meds and all the copays.  Shoot, I still have to do the dentist and the colonoscopy, both of which are so far down on my 'want-to' list that I might just need to enlist someone else to make those phone calls on my behalf.

Recalling today's visit to the boob-a-matic place, I'd have to say it wasn't so bad.  The woman who 'handled' me (LITERALLY) was super-adept at the art of small talk.  It was amazing.  I mean, we ladies KNOW that when you go to this sort of appointment your girls are going to be taken into an entirely foreign set of hands, and so that's awkward, but when the handler chats you up as though you're really just hanging out at the pool finding out a little about each other while your kids play in the shallow end, it brings another dimension to the affair that's really not all that bad.  Sure, your bubbs are on display, but she sees them all the time, so how bad can it be?  She didn't even wear GLOVES when touching the twins, which was nice and decidedly nonclinical of her.  Aside from the mammarial manipulations and precise body positioning, it was a lovely visit with someone who is VERY professional, so thanks Raleigh Radiology!

Plus which, I got to look at the pictures.  OF MY OWN BOOBS.  They look weird, and not at all sexy.  Something about fibrocystic tissue (which I've known about for years) and maybe I might have to come back for more pics if the docs don't care for what they're seeing.  Oy.  My poor beauties.  Once squish was bearable, more might venture into 'don't want to' territory.  Not my call to make.

So far the news, medically, has been OK, so I can't complain.  Fine, so I'm taking BP meds now, it was time.  Today I had word that the thyroid tests that were just a touch out of bounds at my first doc visit?  WAY out of bounds at the follow-up.  So guess what?  I'm back on Synthroid!  Woohoo!  More pills!  A lifetime of pharmaceutical assistance awaits!  *Sigh*  It'll be fine.  It's all good. It's just a wonky thyroid, after all, and it's just a little pill, and once I start taking it I'm sure I'll wonder why it took so long to get back on it because whoa, look at that I have foot bones under all that swelling, but, you know, it's still a sign of imperfect health.  Very discouraging, as the downhill slide is visible now and the first cart of the coaster has already gone over the peak.

But!  The mammagramma tech was SHOCKED to find out I'm as old as I am, even going so far as to ask me if I might be pregnant (HAHAHAHAHAHAA!) before looking at my chart and having the grace to look wide-eyed thereafter and telling me 'you look way younger than your age' at which point I would have let her take pictures of my rack for distribution to her friends because I was so pleased.

I TOLD you she was good at small talk, y'all.

So, that happened today.  How about you?

Tiff out.

Monday, August 13, 2012

That's a lovely cliff to fall off of

You, gentle reader(s), are asked to do one thing, and one thing only, as a result of being here right now.  This one is is as follows: leave me a comment saying thank you that I didn't post what I just spent 30 minutes whining writing about.

Wholey cats what a self-absorbed nitwit I am!

Suffice it to say that once I'd written out this craptastic load of whinge and then re-read it, I wanted to slap myself.  Good God, what a load of garbage.

So, yeah, while people are suffering and struggling and sickening in this world, I ALMOST chose to moan about how lethargic I've felt lately and how 'blah' everything seems.

Because, you know, I can pay the bills and go on vacation and afford to buy decent food and drink.

Right.  That's a world of hurt, ain't it?


Now that you're not reading about THAT (remember, thank you!), you can read about this - - 

We were in the red circle last Friday night
Rascal Flatts sounds better when you're the one behind the beer cart handing out the cold ones instead of paying 13 clams apiece for a 24-ouncer.

You might be curious as to how I know this.

First-hand knowledge, I say, after having spent Friday night dressed in a 'venue appropriate' logo shirt and regulation black trousers grabbing beers and twisted teas and the occasional (at least to start) bottle of water out of a giant vat of ice water for the thirsty, THIRSTY crowds at the Walnut Creek Amphitheater.  Yep – for the evening I was masquerading as a concessions lady, basking in the adulation of all those jealous folks who handed over good money just to get at what I got.  Mmmhmm!  While the country music blared, the thirsty came, dollars (or plastic, it's all good) clutched in sweaty hands, eyes glazed over with desire for the goods.  When I put that chilled tallboy in that sweaty palm (after ensuring that all IDs were checked and cracking open the pull tab [all cans MUST be opened before the customer leaves the table!]) you could see that the future looked bright to them.

Why, some folks were so overcome with this transformative moment that they came back time after time!  Some folks had become SO VERY transformed that they were at the peak of their Nirvana (or 'the peak of their Rascal Flatts'?) and we had to refuse them access to any more 'transformation' so they could avoid the possibility of releasing the transforming liquid back into the wild, as it were, or getting themselves transformed into a pile of goo on the side of the road, post-concert. One must be careful with the gift, I think we can all agree.

It was a gratifying evening, taking part in all that transformation.  It was also a hot hot hot night, a long-ass shift to stand on a concrete slab (6+ hours!), and seemingly fruitless for us as we didn't get a dime for our service. 

Not that being a concessions lady/transformer of souls isn't pay enough, because it totally would be if I was already stinking rich, but the plus side of all this is that the marching band gets some moolah out of our 'time spent,' and whenever we can make money for the band we're all over it.  OK, so what that this was my first time doing this, and my kids aren't even IN the marching band?  It proves that I have a stupendous generous spirit (and Biff does too, because he went right along and served too!), not that I might be a wee bit tetched in the head for volunteering to do such a thing.


Hope you can say the same.  Tiff out.